ROCKY VIEW FORWARD
The Residents' Perspective
Division 8 - Bearspaw
The Scott Property - Lehigh Hanson's potential gravel pit
Lehigh Hanson owns over 600 acres of land on the NW corner of Burma Rd and Rocky Ridge Rd. Their intention is to put a gravel pit there. While there is currently no application, Lehigh has been busy inviting residents to participate in "engagement sessions". This input will be used by the company to create "mitigation measures". In plain English, they want to hear what residents have to say so that they can counter their objections should an application be brought before Council. This makes them appear reasonable while we come off as inflexible and rigid. There are currently 5 pits in operation in the NW corner of the city and in the County. It is scientifically proven that crystalline silica dust can be lethal to humans and animals alike.
As mentioned in the What's New section, the County is currently creating its Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP). A revised draft should be released in the next few weeks. Once it is released, we encourage residents to attend workshops and ensure their voice is heard. To stay up to date on this process click here.
If this application comes forward it will be the third such application on these lands. The first two applications were defeated. There has been resistance to a pit on these lands since 1994. This resistance grows stronger day by day. If you have any questions about this pit and its potential impact, feel free to contact Rocky View Gravel Watch at email@example.com
Bearspaw is known for its pot and kettle topography. One only needs to look at Google maps to notice that the area is rife with sloughs. The water tables frequently change and over the years, millions have been spent on Division 8 in pumping water.
Thanks to Councillor Al Sacuta, the Bearspaw Master Drainage plan was created. This document guides the way for future development so that it's impact on downstream development is negligible. However, there are still areas that suffer yearly from flooding.
One of these areas is the Meadow Drive. Negotiations between the County and area land owners have been on-going for years to no avail. Meadow Dr received special funding this year, to the tune of $300,000, to alleviate the issue - pumping water from Meadow into one of the lakes in Church Ranches. It is estimated that fixing all of Bearspaw's flooding problems will cost in the tens of millions, with Meadow costing anywhere from $7 - 10 million alone.
Cyclists are a huge issue in Division 8. Their safety as well as those of the residents who live in the area are jeopardized daily. A few years ago, Bearspaw Rd was widened to create bike lanes from the 1A to Burma Rd. While they alleviate the problem somewhat, it is not uncommon to find cyclists riding 3 or 4 abreast despite the County's clear signage that cyclists are to ride single file. In speaking with local police, cyclists remain one of the communities biggest complaints.
Road widening is set to continue from Burma Rd to TWP Rd 262 this summer. This helps, however, its $3-4 million expense is a lot of money to say that it will still be impossible to pass as there will be no turn lanes included in this endeavour.
Lands within the Bearspaw ASP include Division 8 and a large part of Division 9 - west of Lochend Rd to Cochrane. It is the guiding document for development in the area. The BASP is set to be reviewed and revised by the County in 2018. Despite this impending revision, the current Council allowed a few major landowners to sever their lands from the BASP and create the Glenbow Ranch Area Structure plan. This wouldn't be so bad if the lands located in the GRASP had not been deemed last to develop under the BASP.
While there are some areas of the BASP that may need some updating, by and large, it carefully considers the country residential community of Bearspaw.
The BASP speaks to 4-acre lots being the minimum parcel size, however, so long as the development plan meets a strict set of criteria outlined by a conceptual scheme, it will allow 2-acre lots. More recent developments have taken this one step further and allowed for less than one acre lots, however, these developments involve more sophisticated stormwater management systems, whose abilities are unknown.
Glenbow Ranch ASP
Despite overwhelming opposition, Council approved the developer-funded Glenbow Ranch Area Structure Plan (GRASP). Amendments to decrease densities in two of the proposed cells (I & J) and to make minor modifications to the transportation map passed at the June 27th Council meeting.
Both Calgary and Cochrane have indicated they will appeal GRASP to the Municipal Government Board since they both believe it will cause detriment to their municipalities.
GRASP covers the land along the environmentally sensitive narrow plateau south of Highway 1A stretching from Calgary to Cochrane. Before the area’s major landowner offered to pay for the ASP, the lands were part of the Bearspaw ASP where they were designated as “last to be developed” agricultural land. At full build-out, GRASP will have a population of close to 16,000 – a population equivalent to the 6th largest town in Alberta, based on 2016 data.
For a summary of the main features in GRASP as well as highlights the concerns many residents have with the plan, click here.